Colin Kaepernick, along with some of his fellow NFL players, kneeling during the National Anthem has become a much-talked about political statement. Here is what I feel when confronted by this current event:
Kaepernick’s actions are not anti-police force. Kaepernick is not anti-troops, anti-veterans, or anti-America. Kaepernick is using his platform as a public figure, as someone who can capture the attention of millions, to criticize the systematic oppression of people of color. He took a stand, or rather, refused to take a stand, as a way to voice his frustration with racial injustice and police brutality. Kaepernick is protesting in a peaceful manor; he is not using violent actions or violent words. He is letting his actions speak for themselves. When he was asked to defend himself, his response was: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Racism exists in America today – this is indisputable. As a white woman, I will never be able to understand what it is like to be systematically oppressed based on my race, to be discriminated against, to live in fear that I will be the next victim of racial violence. However, there is one thing I do understand – there is an immense problem facing today’s America.
Voicing opinions and being able to protest is the most beautiful thing about this country. As American citizens, we have the First Amendment right to speak our truths. Kaepernick has the right to protest against police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem and I have the right to write about it.
The National Anthem represents American Values; The Anthem stands for freedom – the ability to speak out against our government, our institutions, wrongful acts being perpetrated in our society. The Anthem stands for liberty; according to Google, liberty is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” The Anthem stands for justice for all – the treatment of all citizens to be is morally right and fair.
As long as the Anthem stands for those values, I will kneel when it is played. Because Keith Lamar Scott, the 173rd person of color to be fatally shot by the police in 2016, cannot stand while the Anthem is played, neither can I. As long as people of color have to fear for their safety every time they leave their homes, I will kneel. Because young Black kids are taught that wearing a hoodie makes them look “thuggish” and “threatening,” I kneel. While people nation-wide rally and riot because of the climbing number of fatal shootings by cops, I kneel. Until there is justice for all, I kneel.
(Featured Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons)